TEHRAN: Iran has denied supporting the Polisario Front in the disputed Western Sahara a day after Morocco severed ties with Tehran in protest.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi was quoted by local media today as saying the accusations are "completely baseless" and that Iran respects the sovereignty of all countries.
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said yesterday that his government had proof that the Lebanese Hezbollah group, which is supported by Iran, has been providing training and financial support to Polisario fighters since 2016.
He says Hezbollah sent its first supply of weaponry to the Polisario last month, prompting Morocco's decision to cut ties.
Hezbollah denied the allegations, saying Morocco was acting under American, Israeli, and Saudi pressure.
Iran backs armed groups across the Middle East, including many viewed as terrorist organisations by Western and Arab countries.
Saudi Arabia, which is locked in a regional rivalry with Iran, expressed support for Morocco.
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said it "strongly condemns Iranian interference in Morocco's internal affairs through its tool, Hezbollah's terrorist militia, which is training the elements of the so-called 'Polisario' group.
" Morocco and Iran had only recently restored relations after years of enmity stemming from Morocco's support for Bahrain's Sunni monarchy, which quashed a 2011 Arab Spring uprising supported by that country's Shiite majority.
In response to Morocco's sheltering of the deposed shah, Iran cultivated close ties with the Polisario in the years immediately after its 1979 Islamic revolution.
But Tehran denies supporting the independence movement in Western Sahara since then.